Happy birthday Abe, here's a shiny new pennySPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Abraham Lincoln got a present Thursday for his 200th birthday — or, technically, 319 million presents. The U.S. Mint released a redesigned penny to mark the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The Mint plans to start out by producing 319 million of the new coins.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Abraham Lincoln got a present Thursday for his 200th birthday — or, technically, 319 million presents.
The U.S. Mint released a redesigned penny to mark the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The Mint plans to start out by producing 319 million of the new coins.
The front of the redesigned penny is the familiar image of Lincoln in profile. The back shows him delivering a speech outside Illinois' Old State Capitol, where he served as a legislator, delivered a famous speech on slavery and ran his transition office after being elected president.
This is the third of four new pennies honoring Lincoln this year. His birthday was Feb. 12, but the event is being celebrated all year long.
The earlier pennies showed the Kentucky log cabin where Lincoln was born and a scene of him reading as he took a break from splitting rails in Indiana. Officials say they've produced 1.3 billion of the first two Lincoln coins.
The fourth penny, to be released in November, will celebrate Lincoln's time as president.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Old State Capitol to see the coin released and buy up rolls of shiny pennies.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, called pennies ``a common coin, the most common of all' and said they are a fitting tribute for a president who accomplished great things despite his common origins.
But the penny has also been criticized as nearly useless now that inflation has sucked away so much of its value. The Mint says it costs 1.4 cents to produce a penny, which has led to calls for discontinuing the coin or at least switching to less expensive metal.
The Lincoln pennies, though, follow the Mint's successful programs to generate public interest in coins by issuing quarters commemorating each state and dollars honoring the presidents.
Joel Iskowitz designed the new penny for the Mint, a process that took months of research, sketches and reviews.
``Nothing in my career as an artist or in the course of my life as an American citizen has meant any more to me than getting this selection,' Iskowitz said. ``It's kind of daunting, to tell you the truth.'
On the Net: www.usmint.gov